New data released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives highlights just how much more money people need to live in Metro Vancouver than in previous years.
According to the data released Tuesday, the living wage for Metro Vancouver is $20.52, which is more than $5 higher than B.C.’s minimum wage and $1.02 higher than the previous calculation, which was done in 2019.
The living wage is calculated as the hourly amount a person should make to meet basic expenses including rent, child care, food and transportation. It also takes income supports and accessible public services into account.
“The reality is that a number of families across B.C. earn less than a living wage and struggle to make ends meet with the rising cost of living, especially the cost of housing,” said Anastasia French, Living Wage for Families B.C. organizer, in a news release.
The CCPA said the most significant cost increases were from housing, which rose 8.6 per cent, and telecommunications, which rose six per cent.
While a pandemic-related rent freeze prevented housing rates from rising even higher, the organization said the median monthly rent for a three-bedroom unit rose by $147 in October 2020 to $1,850.
The CCPA does credit provincial investments in child care for keeping the living wage from going up even more.
“This year’s calculation shows the impact of public policy changes since 2018, notably significant child care investments, the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit and elimination of MSP premiums, as well as other small changes to government transfers and taxes,” French said.
“These changes have helped offset the increase in family expenses since 2018, improving affordability for modest- and middle-income families with young children, which demonstrates the power of good public policy to make life more affordable for families.”
A living-wage calculation wasn’t made in 2020 because of unprecedented changes and disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the living wages calculated for other parts of the province:
- Metro Vancouver: $20.52, up from $19.50 in 2019
- Fraser Valley: $16.75, up from $15.54 in 2019
- Greater Victoria: $20.46, up from $19.39 in 2019
- Kamloops: $16.71, up from $15.93 in 2019
- Kelowna: $18.49, data not collected in 2019